Businesses are waking up to the fact that messaging is a huge part of consumers’ personal lives and are working on incorporating messaging channels into their comms portfolio. Our latest round of Autonomous Customer research confirms that messaging is here to stay. But successful implementation takes so much more than making the channel available. It’s not a case of setting up any channel that’s popular in the personal sphere and off you go. For a start, adding in a channel has cost implications and, because these messaging channels don’t all handle data in the same way, bringing them together on one platform with a single interface to your agents can be difficult.
To make the right decisions about messaging channels you first need to understand where messaging fits into the communication spectrum. If it was humanly possible, we’d all use telepathy to communicate our thoughts, our emotions and all the complexities of our message instantly. Talking to someone is the next best thing and offers the least disruption to the message — which is why our research shows that voice is still king of the contact centre.
Messaging is a step down in the hierarchy of immediacy and comes into play when consumers are looking for more measured and less emotional responses. They accept a delay with asynchronous forms of messaging and may even choose to communicate with the contact centre that way because having a serial conversation fits around other demands on their attention.
Check that your approach to messaging matches your customers' expectations: Can your customers easily switch between different channels when they contact you, and can they reach you on the channel they prefer?
Businesses need to understand the type of questions consumers will ask via each messaging channel and be realistic about the capabilities of the channel to answer them. One channel can’t be all things to all people.
Thanks to the internet, customers are finding the answers to simple questions themselves, so we’re seeing a trend where the interactions coming into the contact centre via every channel are becoming more complex. This is a green light for businesses to introduce AI to augment its human-driven service. Leading businesses are using AI to rapidly service queries the consumer perceives as simple, meeting expectations around speed, but relying on the agent to understand the complexities and handle the emotional side of the query. There’s an expectation that there’ll be humans in the loop, supervising the AI, ready to step in as soon as there’s a hitch.
Overall, the growth of messaging for business has been sure and steady, and we expect to see this pattern repeating for all forms of messaging. Therefore, it will be important to allow messaging channels the time they need to become established ways of doing business.
So what are consumers looking for next? Our research reveals that consumers are ready for businesses to use messaging channels to proactively contact them about notifications, confirmations and possible problems: 72 per cent would like organisations to email them, and 59 per cent would welcome contact via SMS or WhatsApp. The next step for businesses will be to take these proactive contact opportunities further, making all messaging channels bi-directional.
The future for business messaging channels is bright, but successful implementation depends on understanding the ‘rules’ of consumer expectations and offering services that they’re comfortable with using in a business context. Discover the insight you need to get your strategy right by downloading our latest white paper, ‘The Autonomous Customer 2020’ and register for our webinar.